Penn State learning spaces prepared for hybrid teaching and learning

Penn State IT staff work to prepare a classroom with technology to allow hybrid teaching and learning
Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State faculty and students are preparing to return to classrooms across Pennsylvania at the start of the fall semester. When they do, it will be to rooms equipped with technology to support teaching and learning in both in-person and online formats.

Throughout the summer, Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) team members collaborated with information technology (IT) staff and faculty from across Penn State to identify and fill needs within learning spaces in support of resident and remote students.

"We understand there are several challenges facing our faculty and students this fall," said Terry O’Heron, director of operations with TLT. “One obstacle that has been alleviated is meeting students' needs in a course for those who can attend in person and those who must attend remotely. Thanks to the hard work of everyone on our committee, Penn State's classrooms have the required technology to operate in a hybrid teaching and learning environment.”

The initial step in the process was to furnish rooms with the proper audio and video equipment to enable broadcasting and recording of instructors and students within the space. For the upcoming semester, every general-purpose classroom at University Park is outfitted to meet these requirements to virtually deliver course content through Zoom. Additionally, 754 Commonwealth Campus classrooms and 163 academic college classrooms will be supplied with similar technology.

Another vital element to give remote and residential students equal access to course content centers around whiteboards and writeable surfaces. To support faculty in this area, the classroom technology committee will procure iPads and Apple Pencils. These will be distributed by the IT Loaner Program and allow instructors to broadcast content from the tablets through the in-room projector(s) and Zoom.

The committee is also continuing its work alongside University and unit leadership and faculty to identify additional and specialized technology to support coursework in particular disciplines. Items under consideration include touch-screen monitors, styluses, webcams, document cameras, and other tools to support learning in non-raditional spaces like labs or performance areas.

To help with this process, Penn State faculty are being asked to complete the Classroom Technology Survey by July 31. The brief survey will take about five minutes to complete and will provide important feedback on chalkboard and whiteboard digital alternatives for teaching in-classroom and remotely. The survey is not anonymous and responses will be used to help deploy touchscreen monitors.

The classroom technology group will work with the faculty development subcommittee and members of TLT to develop materials in support of faculty using these classroom technologies.

Members of the classroom technology committee are:

-      Terry O’Heron, director of operations with TLT

-      John Hoh, senior IT director for the Commonwealth Campuses

-      Veronica Longenecker, IT director with the College of the Liberal Arts

-      Dave Test, IT manager with TLT

-      Dean Blackstock, manager of operations support with TLT

-      Casey Fenton, multimedia specialist with the College of Engineering

-      Nick Giacobe, assistant teaching professor with the College of Information Sciences and Technology at University Park

-      Joseph Peter Gyekis, associate teaching professor of biobehavioral health at University Park

-      Reuben H Kraft, associate professor of mechanical engineering at University Park

-      Margaret Signorella, distinguished professor of psychology and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Penn State Brandywine

-      Asif ud-Doula, associate professor of physics at Penn State Scranton